Home > Faking Forever (First Wives #4)(5)

Faking Forever (First Wives #4)(5)
Author: Catherine Bybee

Thirty minutes later, Shannon had changed out of her wet clothes and was looking over the courtyard of her hotel toward the ocean. Tulum was filled with small hotels, none of which had more than twenty to twenty-five rooms. Her accommodations were next to where Corrie and her bridal party were staying and one over from where the wedding was scheduled to take place.

The rain had moved away from the flash flooding stage and settled on a proper soak. Much as Shannon would have liked to stay sheltered in place, she needed to find Mrs. Harkin and Corrie and learn the backup plan if the rain ruined the anticipated outdoor wedding.

Donning a pair of sandals, Shannon tucked her room key in her back pocket and left her camera behind.

The rehearsal was supposed to start at six thirty, so she headed toward the venue with an umbrella keeping the majority of the rain away. Dodging puddles and passing cars, Shannon zigzagged up the street and into the venue. She recognized the space from the pictures she’d found on the Internet.

Chairs where the guests were supposed to sit the following day were stacked up against palm trees. The expanse of beach that would house the ceremony appeared much smaller than the images she’d seen. How a hundred plus people were supposed to fit, she didn’t know.

Noise from a restaurant behind the beach drifted above the sound of rain. Over her shoulder, she saw the closed sliding doors that obviously opened up to offer the full effect of beach breezes and views on clear nights.

Now it seemed to house anxious faces peering out at the nasty weather. She walked farther into the restaurant, leaving her umbrella at the door.

“Are you here with the wedding party?”

Shannon’s gaze found Corrie, sitting in a chair in the far corner, her face buried in her hands. “I am,” she said, excusing herself to console the bride.

“This is awful. Nothing is going like we planned.” Shannon overheard Corrie’s complaints to a young woman sitting beside her.

“It’s going to be fine.”

Corrie snapped her head up and yelled at her friend, “It’s not going to be all right. Look at this place!”

Several people standing around stepped back, and Shannon swooped in. She’d had her share of monster brides and knew when she saw one breaking down under the stress of the day.

She knelt to Corrie’s level and grasped the bride’s cold hands in hers.

“Hey, sweetie.”

Shannon’s soft voice seemed to encourage Corrie to cry harder.

“My wedding is ruined, Shannon.”

“Your wedding isn’t until tomorrow. This can all blow over.”

Corrie used the tissue in her hand and wiped her nose.

“That’s what I told her,” the petite brunette sitting beside Corrie said.

“It’s an omen. All of it.”

All of it? Shannon wanted to ask what she missed but didn’t want to open a can of worms with so many people watching.

Mrs. Harkin marched across the room and stopped in front of her daughter. In a tight voice, she said, “Get yourself together, young lady. You’re making a scene.”

Corrie hiccupped.

“We’re going to run through the rehearsal in here. The wedding coordinator assures me the rain will let up by tomorrow.”

Shannon made eye contact with Corrie’s friend.

A coordinator that could control the weather would be a neat trick.

“It’s been raining all day.”

Mrs. Harkin lowered her voice. “You’re crying like a child. Do you want your husband to think you’re too immature to handle a little rain?”

Corrie blinked a few times, opened her mouth.

“Now, go wipe that face and paint on a smile.”

Shannon had a strong desire to tell Mrs. Harkin that Corrie had every right to be upset. Instead she took Corrie’s elbow and helped her to her feet. “C’mon. Let’s freshen you up.” She looked at Corrie’s friend. “Can you find some face powder, maybe some lip gloss?”

The brunette nodded and took the opportunity to leave Corrie’s side.

Shannon followed the hostess to the ladies’ room at the back of the restaurant, checked the two stalls to make sure they were alone, and then propped Corrie up on the counter.

Corrie sucked in a couple of deep breaths, her blank stare focused on the back of the room.

Shannon dipped a paper towel into cold water and dabbed the mascara away from under Corrie’s eyes.

“There’s no guarantee it’s going to rain tomorrow. The forecast is saying partly cloudy with scattered showers . . . which is normal for this part of Mexico.”

“It’s pouring.”

“I know. I’m sure it’s not what you want. If they have to move the wedding inside, they move it inside. No big deal.”

Corrie looked away, her lips in a thin line. “My mother picked this place. Said it would accommodate everyone on the list. The coordinator told me this morning that we had twenty-five more guests than they can seat at the reception.”

“I’m sure they can make room. Things like that happen all the time.”

Corrie shook her head. “Nothing is going right, Shannon.”

She stopped working on the running makeup and captured Corrie’s gaze. “What does your fiancé say about the rain?”

Corrie’s nose flared, and for a second Shannon thought she’d have a bawling bride on her hands once again. Instead, her chin came up. “I don’t know. I haven’t seen him yet.”

“What do you mean?”

“He flew in a few hours ago. He was supposed to fly here with me yesterday and then told me at the last minute that he had a meeting he couldn’t avoid.”

Hair on the back of Shannon’s neck started to slowly dance.

“He’s always working. My mother says that’s a good thing, that we won’t get tired of each other.”

Shannon laid a hand on the countertop. “What do you think?”

Corrie swallowed. “I think it’s a crappy way to start a marriage. It feels like I’m just another merger for his company.”

Shannon was starting to understand Corrie’s point.

“And all this . . . the rain, the screwed up guest list . . . it’s an omen.”

She took a breath and waited. “Are you having second thoughts?”

Corrie nodded once. Her eyes started to well up again.

“Hey. It’s not too late to back out. If you really don’t want to do this, you don’t have to.”

Corrie looked at her like the thought had never crossed her mind that she actually had a choice.

“Trust me. You’re better off walking away now than going around faking forever with a man who isn’t right.”

“I can’t do that. My mother would kill me. All the guests are flying in.”

Oh, the pressure. Shannon knew it well.

“Listen. I understand that there is a plan here, but you still have a choice. Take it from me, once you say I do, it’s going to take a lot more to say you don’t.”

“You think I’ll end up divorced.”

Shannon didn’t want to put that on her. “If you both love each other enough, you can work through anything.”

Corrie narrowed her eyes. “Did you love your husband enough?”

“I did. But it takes two, Corrie.”

She closed her eyes.

“I’m not saying your fiancé doesn’t love you.” Not that Shannon would know.

The door to the bathroom opened, and Corrie’s friend appeared with the makeup. “He’s here,” she announced.

Corrie released a breath and brushed away the remainder of her tears. “I’m okay.”

Shannon stood back and let the conversation drop while Corrie attempted to erase the stress with powder and blush.

“I’ll leave you girls.”

Corrie painted on the fake smile Shannon had seen the day she’d met her. “I’m fine. It’s just rain, right?”

Shannon left the room, anxious now to see who Corrie’s future husband was.

Three steps into the dining room, where the waitstaff had already pushed tables aside in an attempt to create a makeshift aisle, Shannon’s heart jumped.

Mrs. Harkin stood in animated conversation with Mr. Phone.

Slowly, as if feeling her disapproving gaze, he turned her way. The smile he wore while talking fell.

“You,” she whispered under her breath. Maybe he was just a guest here for the wedding and knew the mother of the bride.

Only those hopes faded when Corrie emerged from the bathroom, walked past Shannon, and straight up to Mr. Phone.

He turned his attention to Corrie and kissed the side of her cheek. Their conversation was too far away for Shannon to hear, but it became perfectly clear who the man was, and who his girlfriend was.

Not only was Mr. Phone not good enough for Corrie, the man was robbing the cradle.

Chapter Four

Shannon flagged down the bartender and sat at the bar. “I’ll have a margarita.”

“Make that two.”

She turned to the man who moved up beside her.

“It’s an open bar, might as well, right?” he said, smiling.

Was it an open bar? She didn’t know. “Right.”

“Now that the groom finally showed up, we can get this shit show moving so we can do it again tomorrow.”

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